Oil drilling, yes. Children's health insurance, no. Economic stimulus, by all means. The priorities of the pre-election Congress this week reflect the political verdict on what will turn on voters in November but promise little of substance.
Democrats will bring to the floor an energy plan that would blunt Republican campaign attacks by opening some areas to coastal drilling while providing incentives for alternative energy and reducing subsidies for oil companies.
Meanwhile, they are letting Republicans off the hook on expanding the Children's Health Insurance Program by not forcing the issue and making them vote up or down on overriding another Bush veto.
Instead, Democrats will focus on another economic stimulus bill to follow the earlier one, which seems to have had no effect whatsoever on the lagging economy.
“This situation is yet another stark reminder that we live in difficult economic times and we must do more to help struggling families reach the American dream,” says Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid. “That is why I urge President Bush, Senator McCain and other Republicans to work with Democrats in the immediate days ahead to enact an economic recovery package.”
All this will translate into campaign rhetoric, but will voters believe that these posturing politicians are doing anything substantive?